Garden party: In 2001, Dr. Jennifer Daniels and two of her children, Benjamin, then 11, and Lillian, then 14, helped their mother plant a garden in the back yard of their West Newell Street home. MICHAEL DAVIS PHOTO
Daniels visited the Caribbean country a few months ago where some former patients of hers now live. “They first offered me a round-trip ticket, then upped it to round trip, plus a rental car,” she said. “When that didn’t work, they invited my three children to come along as well, and I finally said yes.”
Daniels fell in love with the island, and felt that is was fertile ground to plant her practice. She and her children will be living in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital. Daniels was impressed by the hilly island, with its drastic temperature changes; halfway up the hills, where she will be settling, the temperature and humidity are ideal.
After several years of practicing alternative health methods, Daniels has moved to fasting, convinced that it may well be the solution to many ailments that general medicine has had trouble treating. The procedure entails a diet of water only, followed by juices; it could last four to 20 days, after which solid food is slowly reintroduced.
“Parasites begin to leave the body, then the body can begin to cleanse and heal itself,” she explained. Conditions that respond well to this treatment, according to Daniels, are headaches, allergies, arthritis, skin rashes, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and even prostate cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma.
Her new fasting and healing clinic is another twist in Daniels’ long and checkered career that has been fraught with many challenges. She has a bachelor of medicine degree from Harvard University, a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, a practical combination.
Daniels grew up on the South Side, where drug traffic was rampant, and after completing her education returned to the area determined to turn things around. She opened her medical practice on a block that had been vacant for 20 years and subsequently designed and built a home for her family on the corner of West Newell Street and Midland Avenue, a site that was another convenience store hangout for drug users.
“There were convenience stores on every block,” she recalled. When the store where her house now sits was torched, she discovered it was two years behind in taxes and negotiated to buy the property, which consisted of three city lots. Daniels’ house became the linchpin for other homes to be built across the street, which she now refers to as “a stable, peaceful oasis.”
Between her medical practice and neighborhood activism, Daniels found time to home-school her three children up to the seventh grade. A single mother, her kids were conceived by artificial insemination.
Daniels had always used a holistic approach to her medical practice by teaching her patients how to heal with natural food, herbs and lifestyle changes. She had been treating a patient with diabetes who agreed to follow a strict diet and exercise rather than start insulin shots. But instead of following her instructions, the patient, while on vacation, went on a drinking binge and had to be treated for insulin shock when he returned to Syracuse.
As a result, the Office of Professional Medical Conduct suspended her medical license. After going back and forth before the board, which imposed legal penalties, license suspension and probation, at no time was her license revoked. As of Dec. 7, 2007, Daniels has been eligible to reapply for a medical license, but she has not done so.
In 2000, without a license to practice medicine in New York state but with a strong history of activism, Daniels was approached to run for mayor of Syracuse on the Green Party ticket. She was the subject of a July 25, 2001, New Times cover story about her mayoral run. While she didn’t win the election, Daniels garnered 2,938 votes out of 32,128 cast.
So now Dr. Daniels (she can correctly be called “Dr.” since the title follows the degree, not the license) is embarking on a new chapter in her life. “I feel very fortunate to have worked in Syracuse and to have been able to made a contribution there,” said Daniels by phone in between her studies in California. “A special thanks to everyone who made my time in Syracuse such an important part of my life as well. Now it is time to move on.”